Operator opportunities in the internet of things

More than 50 billion connected devices
Operator opportunities
in the internet of things
Getting closer to the vision of more than 50 billion connected devices means knowing
how to address the diverse connectivity needs of a massive number and variety of
devices, while simultaneously facilitating smooth and efficient network provisioning.
M igu e l Bl o c k s t r a n d, T om a s Hol m , L a r s - Ör ja n K l i ng,
Robe rt S ko g a n d Be r n d t Wa l l i n
Drivers for the Ericsson Device
Connection Platform
Estimates from different market analysts vary in terms of predicted figures –
but they all agree that data usage will at
least double every year until 2015, when
data will outweigh voice 30 times over.
These predictions are based on the concept that anything that benefits from
being connected will be connected.
Consumers are increasingly getting
used to constantly connected devices,
behavior patterns are changing and the
value of connectivity for people, business
and society is becoming more evident.
More than 50 billion connected
devices is a vision where the convenience brought to people’s lives through
the use of mobile networks will be considered normal and expected; a vast
number of M2M interactions will constantly take place; and a myriad of
new services will raise dependency on
mobile networks and secure a massive
number of connections.
Devices will access mobile networks
directly or through gateways. They
will communicate with each other, be
part of an end-to-end M2M system, as
well as communicating with individuals and central control systems. People
will make use of numerous everyday
devices that benefit from M2M connectivity at home, at work, on the move,
in remote locations and elsewhere. The
most obvious examples include: washing machines, coffee makers, car keys,
ticket machines, fridges, window sensors, and utility meters. In addition,
mobile devices will be adapted to serve
as many other things; such as a connected wallet, a connection to medical services, and an interactive location guide.
In the world of connected devices, we all
benefit from these applications.
In the world of more than 50 billion
connected devices there are fewer accidents due to improved safety, our way
of life is more sustainable due to more
efficient use of resources, we are energy smart, and healthcare and education
are available for everyone.
Operators have started to realize
that their networks can provide value
beyond existing flat-rate plans. This will
come about by applying differentiated
connectivity packages tailored to meet
the needs of different devices and different types of users.
Today’s networks are designed to
Terms and abbreviations
3rd Generation Partnership Project
access control list
Application Programming Interface
Access Point Name
authentication center
Call Detail Record
Constrained Application Protocol
customer relationship management
Device Access Enabler
Domain Name System
Ericsson Device Connection Platform
Gateway GPRS Support Node
IP based interface between the SGSN and other SGSNs and (internal) GGSNs
IP-based interface between the
internal SGSN and external GGSNs
Interface between SGSNs and HLRs. Messages going through this
interface use the MAP3 protocol
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
NAT Global System for Mobile
home location register
Hypertext Transfer Protocol
Internet Engineering Task Force
International Mobile Subscriber
Internet Protocol
IP version 4
IP version 6
Mobile Country Code
Mobile Network Code
mobile network operator
mobile switching center
Mobile Station Identification Number
mobile virtual network operator
Network Address Translation
online charging system
Operational Support System
Personal Digital Cellular
Packet Data Protocol
Public Land Mobile Network
quality of service
Remote Authentication
Dial-In User Service
software as a service
Serving GPRS Support Node
subscriber identity module
Service Level Agreement
Short Message Service
Short Message Service Center
Secure Sockets Layer
virtual private network
Wireless Application Protocol
Wideband Code Division
Multiple Access
deliver and enforce different connectivity packages and types. However, to
fully cater for the demands created by
new types of devices and applications,
innovative support systems will be
The fundamental features of such
systems include:
Figure 1 People
upport for IP connectivity over private
networks, as well as over the internet;
efficient provisioning for a large number
of subscriptions;
capabilities to create and enforce
tailored subscriptions with respect
to QoS and charging models; and
mobile network operator and enterprisemanagement portals.
Cost efficiency
To meet the market need for M2M support systems, Ericsson provides a SaaS
solution – Ericsson Device Connection
Platform (EDCP) – offering operators
and M2M enterprises an initial low-cost
solution for connecting devices and
supporting applications, with the potential to expand and adapt to the growing
needs of the market.
Social cost
Openness and simplicity
Ericsson Device Connection
Platform Architecture
Functional architecture
Figure 3 shows how the EDCP solution
interfaces with enterprises as well as
mobile operators, providing functionality in three main areas:
Cost of connectivity
olicy control and charging; and
management and provisioning of
subscriptions and devices.
Devices are connected to enterprise
applications through the EDCP and
via the operator’s mobile network. For
transparent IP connectivity, the GGSN
supports private IP networks, while
device connectivity;
Figure 2 Device connectivity benefits people, business and society
Customization of connectivity
Revenue per bit
Revenue per bit
We want this
Not this
Demand curve
the device access enabler (DAE) grants
access to devices on the internet. The
platform includes a service execution
environment, which provides support
functionality to enterprise applications
such as a subscribe/notify communication scheme and location services.
The policy and charging control block
handles the various settings for tailored
subscriptions, such as data capping and
charging levels. Enforcement of the
parameters takes place in the GGSN
and online charging systems (OCSs).
The latter components also pre-rate and
sort charging information – Call Detail
Records (CDRs) – for each enterprise and
operator. CDRs are then transferred to
the operator’s billing system according
to a desired control cycle.
For operator and enterprise users,
dedicated portals provide access to the
platform for SLA, order and account
management components. The operator can, for example, create enterprisespecific subscriptions, set up portals
and monitor SLA reports. Through the
self-service portal the enterprise can
purchase services, order SIM cards,
and monitor real-time/statistical data
on devices. The self-service portal also
includes provisioning of subscriptions
into the EDCP components as well
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
More than 50 billion connected devices
Figure 3 Ericsson Device Connection Platform architecture
SLA, order and account manager
Provisioning of subscriptions
and devices
Service execution
EDCP solution
EP self-service portal
Device access
EP service API
Service exposure
OP portal
IP connection establishment and policy enforcement
Connection over mobile network
Devices and gateways
Figure 4 gateway
Ericsson Device Connection Platform interaction with M2M devices via a
M2M devices
M2M device
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
as auto configuration of connectivity parameters into the devices. All
devices supported by the EDCP are
provisioned in the subscription database.
The OSS/diagnostics component provides operational and maintenance
functions, such as alarm handling, as
well as statistics for SLA reporting. A
subset of status information and alarms
is provided to the operator’s network
operation center.
Not all of the more than 50 billion
connected devices will be equipped
with SIM cards. Figure 4 shows a probable scenario in which EDCP interacts
with M2M devices via a gateway. The
gateway, which can be connected to
several different M2M devices, handles
communication over the mobile network. Communication protocols used
may be of any type. This example shows
HTTP being used between EDCP and the
gateway and the IETF-specified CoAP
between the gateway and devices.
Ericsson Device Connection Platform
deployment architecture
SaaS offered in a cloud style is a convenient and cost-effective way to connect devices and applications. The cloud
model features pay-as-you-grow characteristics, rapid elasticity of system
resources and ease of use. In the M2M
arena there will be many different
devices. Some will send and receive
small amounts of data infrequently,
some will send small amounts often
and others will send and receive large
amounts of data often or rarely. What
M2M devices have in common, however, is that they could all benefit from the
convenience of re-using infrastructure
nodes for M2M services, such as provisioning, connectivity, charging and policy. The EDCP will be deployed as a SaaS
to support this convenience and will
interface to several nodes, as shown in
Figure 5.
Below are short examples of how
EDCP will support multi-tenant services in areas such as provisioning; OSS;
charging; and accessing devices from
the internet.
To handle the use of the subscription
database (HLR), which is shared among
customers, for its own or MNO-owned
IMSI series, the EDCP will typically
have its own HLR/AUC and interface to
SGSN via the Gn/Gp/Gr interface. The
different MNOs share the EDCP but use
their own radio and core networks for
sending messages to the platform.
When the M2M device is equipped
with an EDCP SIM card, 3GPP messages such as Attach and Authentication
messages, which will be routed via the
IMSI number to the EDCP HLR and processed according to standard 3GPP methods. When the M2M device issues a PDP
context activation message, that message will be routed to the EDCP GGSN
via the MNO-controlled SGSN by a DNS
lookup of the Access Point Name (APN)
derived from the M2M device plus the
EDCP IMSI number.
For MNO-owned IMSI series, the routing to EDCP HLR will additionally be
based on Mobile Station Identification
Number MSIN (plus the ordinary usage
of MCC and MNC). Operators will need
to configure their networks to route
messages to EDCP HLR for specific ranges of IMSI.
Tailored subscriptions
The envisaged more than 50 billion
connected devices will differ greatly
in functionality, ranging from smart
meters to real-time video-surveillance
cameras. A smart meter, for example,
might report a kilobyte or two of data
every other week or so, in which case
accuracy is vital – as it determines costs
reflected on the subscriber’s bill – but
bandwidth and latency are unimportant. On the other hand, a video-surveillance camera constantly requires a lot of
bandwidth (uploads of between 120kbps
and 2MBps depending on the video quality, and even up to 10MBps for very high
quality, such as is required for telepresence). Both smart meters and videosurveillance cameras are, for the most
part, stationary, whereas other applications are mobile and require constant
connectivity. Vehicle-tracking devices,
would for the most part be on the move
and as such, a fleet management application would require constant connectivity. These examples show that both
devices and applications involved in
M2M have very different connectivity
One size no longer fits all
The conclusion is that one size does not
fit all, which is illustrated in Figure 2.
Figure 5 Ericsson Device Connection Platform general deployment
For an MNO to be competitive in the
world of more than 50 billion devices a platform, such as EDCP, is needed. EDCP provides the means to create
tailored subscriptions and offers the
possibility to fine-tune and tailor subscriptions for specific devices and applications. Differentiated tariffs go hand in
hand with tailored subscriptions, adding the requirement on such a platform
to provide the functionality to rate a
tailored subscription with a differentiated tariff..
Tables 1-2 show some examples of
tailored subscriptions and corresponding differentiated tariffs.
These examples show the multitude
of parameters that can be tuned when
designing tailored subscriptions. The
different subscription parameters are
controlled and enforced by the different
parts of the EDCP architecture.
The policy and charging control block
uses the 3GPP-standardized interfaces
Gx and Gy, based on the Diameter protocol, towards the GGSN that enforces these policies. The Gy interface is
used to control usage (such as number
of bytes, number SMSs, and voice minutes), ensuring that a device stays within the caps specified by the MNO and
allows or denies access depending on
time and location. The Gx interface and
HLR profiles are responsible for policy
control parameters such as mobility
and bandwidth. The DAE controls SMS
wake-up and finally the SLA, order and
account manager controls the configuration of the device.
The realization of the tailored subscription is truly distributed on many
Ericsson Device Connection
Platform web portals
EDCP provides one web portal to the
MNO and one to the enterprise, where
Ericsson manages the MNO accounts
and the MNO manages the enterprise
accounts. The EDCP web portal provides one single point of access to create tailored subscriptions, realized by
different nodes, and ensures data consistency.
The MNO web portal is multi-tenant
and offers the tools to design tailored
subscriptions and manage their enterprise portals. The enterprise web portal supports the enterprise to manage
the M2M SIM cards and monitor deviceusage of the EDCP communication
The objective of the EDCP web portal is to be the M2M one-stop shop for
management of M2M communication
aspects provided by EDCP, tailored by
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
More than 50 billion connected devices
A screen from the user’s view of the Ericsson Device Connection Platform
demo portal
Figure 6 MNOs, and used by enterprises. The
portal, which is built on the concept of
self-service, is automated as far as possible, minimizes the need for help desks,
support and sales personnel thus lowering opex costs for MNOs and enterprises.
EDCP supports the operator in creating tailored subscriptions and differentiated tariffs, managing enterprise customers and controlling SIM
cards, as well as facilitating followup on agreed SLAs. With EDCP operators can allocate resources such as APN
and SIM cards to its enterprise customers in a straightforward manner. The
portal provides the operator with the
functionality to ensure that credit limits and other thresholds, such as data
caps, are enforced. If a given threshold
is exceeded, the operator has the option
to increase charges or limit bandwidth.
Figure 6 shows the demo version of
the EDCP portal. Listed on the left are
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
tailored subscriptions created by the
operator. The panel on the right illustrates how a tailored subscription can
be defined.
The enterprise part of the portal will
include all the necessary tools to administrate, manage and monitor devices that use EDCP services. Enterprise
functions such as ordering SIM cards,
connecting SIM cards to a tailored subscription, device management and
viewing data or SMS consumption will
be supported.
EDCP also offers APIs that can be
used by the MNO or the enterprise. The
APIs provide portal functionality that
the MNO and enterprise may use to
integrate that functionality into their
platforms, systems or portals – instead
of or in combination with the EDCP web
Device Access Enablement
Mobile devices – in other words, any
device connected to a mobile network
– reside on a logical IP radio network
or APN, several of which can coexist in
the same radio network. An APN can be
connected to the public internet or a private network. In both cases the connection point is the GGSN. When connected via the public internet, devices can
connect to any available server on the
internet, whereas devices on a private
network can only connect to servers on
that network.
There are a number of limitations
associated with connecting devices to
a private network. In most cases, companies or enterprises implement security measures on their private networks
to limit access to authorized users and
devices. Consequently, establishing a
connection between an operator and an
enterprise requires the exchange of network topology knowledge and involves
tedious manual work for both parties.
The enterprise would require a VPNcapable router, a RADIUS-server and
the competence to configure and manage them both. As a result, lead times
are often measured in weeks and the
number of APNs that can be provided is
restricted. Connecting devices via the
internet overcomes these challenges
and is a less expensive option – unless
security is a priority. Additionally, connecting devices via the internet implies
that they can be accessed from any other connected device – phones, computers, notebooks, tablets, cameras and so
on – via the DAE.
EDCP will connect and share devices
via the internet and shared intranets in
a secure way. It will ensure that it is possible to identify, address and communicate with devices as if they were attached
to the internet via a fully-fledged server position in a manner that is transparent to the device and the enterprise
server. Consequently, EDCP will add
value to the existing M2M domain without requiring any change or update on
the device side or the enterprise server.
Because the number of connected
devices will be enormous, it will not be
possible to assign a unique public IPv4
address to each. While this issue will
eventually be solved when IPv6 is fully
deployed across networks, servers and
devices, an interim solution is needed to
uniquely identify connected devices. An
APN is usually connected to the internet
via an operator NAT. Each device will
have a private IP address that is unique
on its APN, but not globally. Such an
address has no meaning on the internet.
When a device on the APN connects to
a server on the internet, the NAT translates the source IP address to that of the
NAT itself and temporarily assigns a
source port on the internet to which
the contacted server can reply.
NAT deployment works for deviceinitiated connections. However, it does
not work for connections initiated on
an internet server. If devices do not have
unique IP addresses, there is no way for
the servers to initiate a connection to
EDCP’s access-enablement functionality solves the addressing issue using
standard internet mechanisms – by
using the internet host name. Devices
connected to the EDCP will automatically be assigned a hostname that contains the device IMSI. The host name
will be published together with the IP
address of the NAT on the DNS. By using
a standard domain name lookup, a server application can retrieve the IP address
of the NAT and use it to initiate a connection to the device. Identifying the specific device to which a connection should
be forwarded will be resolved using novel mechanisms for which patents are
currently pending.
DNS and hostname publishing,
together with novel forwarding mechanisms, will remove the demand for
tedious device and application programming to support network-initiated access to devices.
By supporting different authentication mechanisms, the EDCP access
enabler can provide device and server
authentication. For devices, single signon mobile access network authentication procedures are used, which means
that all existing devices using a mobile
access network can transparently benefit from EDCP. For server-side application authentication Access control lists
(ACLs) or SSL-based authentication is
Additionally, EDCP access enablement offloads the installation and
execution of security packages on the
device. When server-side applications
require a secure connection, the DAE
implements the security requirements
on the server side.
The DAE will provide several connec-
tivity models appropriate for different
business scenarios:
single enterprise to multiple device;
multiple enterprise to single service; and
multiple enterprise to multiple device.
The DAE will support IPv4 and IPv6 on
both the device and enterprise side, as
well as supporting any transition method between the two.
Ericsson Device Connection
Platform application support
M2M devices will, in many cases, produce data that an M2M application
needs to interpret and take action upon.
For example, an M2M device sends to
indicate that the current temperature
is 47C. An M2M application receives
the information, interprets it and takes
some action. Depending on the nature
of the data and of the corresponding
action, the data exchange between
device and application can occur synchronously, which requires a real-time
connection, or asynchronously. In many
cases, M2M devices will produce data
that can be consumed by the application at a later point in time. For example, the data supplied by an electricity meter to a billing application can be
communicated at any time, the only
requirement being that the information is accurate. Communication during
off-peak hours is cost-effective in such
cases. On the other hand, it is vital that –
in the event of an accident – data be sent
from a vehicle to an emergency-services
application immediately. Asynchronous
communication requires a mechanism
for interim data storage. A later release
of EDCP will have a solution for secure
asynchronous device-application communication.
Today, M2M applications are typically
hosted and executed on the premises of
an enterprise. Alternatively, M2M applications can be deployed and executed
in the cloud. Cloud providers, including some mobile operators as well as
public providers, offer execution platforms suitable for many M2M application types. In a later release, EDCP will
have an M2M execution platform that
can be deployed in private, hybrid or
public clouds. This will provide the
mobile operator with the ability to support EDCP initial offerings such as tailored subscriptions and enhanced provisioning, as well as an execution environment for M2M applications. Enterprise
M2M applications can benefit from wellknown cloud characteristics, such
Table 1: Smart meter subscription
APN type:
Tariff 1:
00.00-05.00, Monday-Friday, X1 cent/kb
Tariff 2:
00.00-05.00, Saturday and Sunday, Y1 cent/kb
Tariff 3:
05.01-23.59,every day, Z1 cent/kb
Automatic device configuration:
SMS wake-up:
Table 2: Video surveillance
APN type:
350 GB/week
Tariff 1:
UL< 500kbps , X2 cent/MB
Tariff 2:
500 <UL <5MB/s, Y2 cent/MB
Automatic device configuration:
SMS wake-up:
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011
More than 50 billion connected devices
as its support for a pay-as-you-grow
model and rapid elasticity of system
EDCP will use the SIM card, a mobile
operator asset, to ensure that data packets from enterprise-owned M2M devices
will be routed to the correct instance of
the M2M execution platform, executing
corresponding enterprise M2M applications.
The M2M execution platform can also
be deployed outside EDCP in a public
cloud environment, where EDCP will
use a secure VPN connection to interface with the cloud provider. The routing principle from device to application will still be the same as when the
cloud platform resides inside the EDCP
Ericsson Device Connection Platform is
an important step towards realizing the
vision of more than 50 billion connected
devices. It provides tools for actors, such
as operators and enterprises, to handle
provisioning in a self-service way. It also
delivers methods to tailor subscriptions
to meet the varied connectivity requirements of the massive number and variety of connected M2M devices. The
device access enabler function in EDCP
solves the issue with find and connect
in a world of NATs and firewalls, and
at the same time shields M2M devices
from unsolicited usage. EDCP, offered as
SaaS, is a way to re-use nodes and functions between several business domains
and different mobile operators.
Solving connectivity challenges is the
natural first step towards achieving the
vision. The next step will be to offer solutions for application support – in other
words, to develop, install and execute
M2M applications in a more cost-effective and convenient way.
Robert Skog
Miguel Blockstrand
is an expert in the
service layer at Ericsson’s
Business Unit Multimedia.
After completing an M.Sc.
in electrical engineering from the Royal
Institute of Technology (KTH), in
Sweden, he joined Ericsson’s two-year
trainee program for system engineers.
Since then, he has worked mainly in the
service layer area with everything from
the first WAP solutions to today’s M2M
solutions. In 2005, he was awarded the
prestigious Ericsson Inventor of the
Year Award.
is a senior product manager for connected devices and industries. He has
20 years’ experience in
telecoms and is currently responsible
for the connected devices portfolio offering within Business Unit Networks.
Most recently, he has been responsible
for the Mobile TV and IPTV network infrastructure portfolios within Ericsson.
Prior to his current engagements in the
TV area, he held several senior
management positions within R&D,
Marketing and Business Development.
He was involved in the first deployments of GSM, the Japanese PDC
mobile system and WCDMA. He holds
an M.Sc. in mechanical engineering
from Chalmers University of
Technology, Sweden.
Berndt Wallin
joined Ericsson in 1986
and is an expert in mediahandling architectures.
Apart from a two-year
period of mobile-phone development at
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina,
US, he has worked for the last 15 years
with speech- and media-processing
products such as transcoders, echo
cancellers, media gateways, messaging
and TV systems. For the past year he has
led the Ericsson Device Connection
Platform development program. He
holds an M.Sc. in electrical engineering
from KTH, Sweden.
Tomas Holm
is a system manager
and has worked with IMS
since he joined Ericsson in
2005. During the past
year he has been responsible for crossarea system issues in Ericsson Device
Connection Platform. He has vast
experience in IT software development, having held various roles at
several companies and holds an M.Sc.
in computer science and engineering
from KTH, Sweden.
Lars-Örjan Kling
is an appointed expert
in IP technology at
Ericsson’s Business Unit
Networks, currently
engaged in the 50 Billion Connected
Devices R&D program with a focus on
technology strategies. He joined
Ericsson in 1980 to work as a computer
architect. Following this, he was active
in many areas including multi-processing, high availability, mathematical
specification methods and neural
computing. In 1997, he entered the
datacom area where he had the role of
chief architect for router data plane
design. Later engagements included
areas such as deep inspection, media
streaming and internet-caching techniques. He holds an M.Sc. in electrical
engineering from KTH, Sweden.
ITU Internet Reports 2005: The Internet of Things. 2005, 7th edition,
E r i c s s o n r e v i e w • 1 2011